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Daily Current Affairs

: 07-10-2021 : 60 Minutes

SUBJECT : Indian Economy

Credit Rating Agencies and India’s Sovereign Rating

In News

  • Credit ratings agency ‘Moody's’ has changed India's sovereign rating outlook from 'negative' to 'stable'.
    • It also affirmed the country’s foreign-currency and local-currency long-term issuer ratings at Baa3.
    • In 2020, Moody’s downgraded India’s sovereign rating from ‘Baa2’ to ‘Baa3’, the lowest investment grade.
      • It stated the following reason behind last year's move.
        • Challenges in implementation of policies to mitigate risks of a sustained period of low growth
        • Deteriorating fiscal position. 
      • The outlook on the last year rating was kept negative.

Reasons behind upgrade in the rating agency’s outlook

  • High Capital Cushion and Greater Liquidity:
    • Bank provisioning has allowed for the gradual write-off of legacy problem assets over the past few years.
    • In addition, banks have strengthened their capital positions, pointing to a stronger outlook for credit growth to support the economy.
    • Both will strengthen banks and non-bank financial institutions which now pose much lesser risk to the sovereign than previously anticipated.
  • Positive Economic Environment:
    • Risks stemming from a high debt burden and weak debt affordability remain.
    • Still the economic environment will allow for a gradual reduction of the general government fiscal deficit over the next few years.
      • Hence it is expected that the sovereign credit profile will not  further deteriorate.

Steps taken by India to strengthen the Banking System

  • Recovery of Bad Loans:
    • In the last 6 financial years, banks have recovered Rs. 5.01 lakh crore of bad loans, enabling them to improve their financial metrics.
  • Capital Infusion in Banks by Government:
    • The government has infused Rs 3.06 lakh crore in state-owned banks in five years between 2017-18 and 2021-22.
  • Creation of National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL):
    • Government has also taken a series of reforms to strengthen banks, improve debt resolution and recovery.
    • Recently, the government approved extending a guarantee of Rs 30,600 crore to the National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL).
      • It will help to clear the banking sector’s stressed assets of around Rs 2 lakh crore in a time-bound manner.

Moody’s assessment on growth

  • V Shaped recovery of Indian Economy:
    • Following a deep contraction of India’s real GDP is expected to surpass 2019 levels this fiscal year.
      • It was 7.3 percent in the fiscal year ending March 2021, and is expected to rebound to a growth rate of 9.3 percent this year. 
      • It will be followed by 7.9 percent in fiscal 2022.
  • High Real GDP Growth Rate at around 6 per cent:
    • Looking ahead, Moody’s expects real GDP growth to average around 6 per cent over the medium term.
  • Underestimation of Data by Moody’s as per Experts:
    • Some analysts argued that Moody’s has underestimated India’s potential of real GDP expansion in the medium term.

What is the impact of the upgrade?

  • Lower Borrowing Costs:
    • Since overseas borrowing costs are tied to 
      • a country’s rating and 
      • the agencies’ outlook on the nation, 
    • An upgrade usually helps in lowering borrowing costs for the government as well as the corporate sector. 
  • Increase foreign investors:
    • Foreign investors take comfort in subscribing to government and corporate bonds at lower rates because
      • Chances of default recedes.
      • Overall debt service ability increases with better ranking.

Credit Rating Agencies

  • It is a company that assigns credit ratings
    • which rate a debtor's ability to 
      • pay back debt by making timely principal and interest payments and 
      • the likelihood of default.
  • There are 3 big credit rating agencies of world
    • Standard & Poor’s (S&P)
    • Moody’s
    • Fitch
  • India’s Rating at present
    • Of the three big rating agencies, Standard & Poor’s and now Moody’s, have a stable sovereign rating outlook.
    • Fitch has kept it negative until now. Like Moody’s, the other two have also kept India at the lowest investment grade.
 

Courtesy: ResearchGate

India’s stand on such ratings

  • India has been rated so low despite being the 5th largest economy.
  • Economic Survey 2021 categorically highlighted such bias against India and China through a graph.

Courtesy: IndianBudget


Source: IE

SUBJECT : Biodiversity and Environment

Study of Air pollution in India by CEEW

In News 

  • Uttar Pradesh is the largest emitter of PM2.5 according to an analysis by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water ( CEEW). 

Council on Energy, Environment and Water(CEEW )

  • It is one of Asia’s leading not-for-profit policy research institutions
  • It uses data, integrated analysis, and strategic outreach to explain – and change – the use, reuse, and misuse of resources.

Major Findings 

  • The high emissions from U.P. were largely due to a significant share of PM2.5 emissions from solid-fuel use in households and, by virtue of being India’s most populous state, had a higher proportion of households relying on this form of fuel.
  • Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, and Rajasthan feature in the list of top polluters but are differently ranked by the five sources. 
  • Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and the Northeastern States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, were among the lowest emitters of PM2.5.
  • Common pollutants:
    • There are differences in the periods over which these sources track the emissions as well as the pollutants, but most track the important ones:
      • PM2.5, PM10, Nox (nitrous oxides), SO2 (Sulphur dioxide), CO (Carbon Monoxide), NH3 (Ammonia), and NMVOC (Non-methane volatile organic compounds).
      • They also track the sources of pollutants ranging from agriculture waste burning, power utilities, industry, dust, transport and waste which account for nearly 95% of the sources of air pollution.
  • Significant variation: The CEEW analysis found “significant variation” in the estimates by various sources going up to as much as 37% for particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), Nitrogen oxide (NOx), Sulphur dioxide (SO2) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). 
    • The overall variation in residential PM2.5 emissions was less than 25%.
      • However, SMoG’s residential PM2.5 emission estimates are approximately 50% higher than those estimated by TERI. 
    • These differences had to do with the way each agency calculated emissions and the data sources they relied on.
  • Recommendations: 
    • Government departments need to collaborate with each other for updating the emissions estimates periodically.
    • Because of the extent of variation, the Council said India ought to “develop and maintain a comprehensive inventory of baseline emissions” to evaluate if its policy and technological interventions were succeeding in reducing air pollution.
    • India has a National Clean Air Campaign (NCAP) that aims to reduce pollution in 122 of the most polluted cities by 2024. 
      • To meet the NCAP target of 20-30% reduction in particulate concentration by 2024, we need to estimate emission reductions needed across sectors. 
      • Estimating these reductions will only be possible when we have an official, representative emission inventory for India.

What is Air pollution?

  • Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants into the air that is detrimental to human health and the planet as a whole.
  • Source of Air Pollution
    • Nitrogen dioxide: It is one of the major pollutants and major sources of NOx include emissions from motor vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities, and chemical solvents.
    • Agriculture & Allied Sources: Ammonia (NH3) -It is another gaseous pollutant that is monitored.
      • It occurs naturally in air, soil and water, and is used as an agricultural fertiliser and in cleaning products.
      • Short-term inhalation of high levels of ammonia can cause irritation and serious burns in the mouth, lungs and eyes.
  • Stubble burning: It is also one of the major sources of air pollution in northern India, especially in winters.
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2): They emitted from the combustion of fossil fuels have, historically, been the main component of air pollution in many parts of the world.
    • The largest source of SO2 in the atmosphere is burning fossil fuels by power plants and other industrial facilities.
    • Short-term exposure to SO2 can harm the respiratory system, making breathing more difficult.
  • Particulate Matter:  Particulate matter (PM) are inhalable and respirable particles composed of sulphate, nitrates, ammonia, sodium chloride, black carbon, mineral dust and water.
    • Both PM2.5 and PM10 are capable of penetrating deep into the lungs but PM2.5 can even enter the bloodstream, primarily resulting in cardiovascular and respiratory impacts, and also affecting other organs. 
    • In 2013, outdoor air pollution and particulate matter were classified as carcinogenic by WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
  • Carbon monoxide (CO): It is a toxic, colourless and odourless gas, given off when fuel containing carbon, such as wood, coal and petrol, are burned.
    • Major sources of methane include waste and fossil fuel and agricultural industry.
  • Ozone (O3): It occurs both in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and at ground level. At the ground, O3 is created by the chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds.
    • It is formed when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries and other sources chemically react in presence of sunlight.
    • It can trigger a variety of health problems, including chest pain, throat irritation and airway inflammation.

Associated risks 

  • Air pollution is a threat to health in all countries, but it hits people in low- and middle-income countries the hardest. 
  • Every year, exposure to air pollution is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths and result in the loss of millions more healthy years of life. 
  • In children, this could include reduced lung growth and function, respiratory infections and aggravated asthma. 
  • In adults, ischaemic heart disease and stroke are the most common causes of premature death attributable to outdoor air pollution, and evidence is also emerging of other effects such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions.
  • This puts the burden of disease attributable to air pollution on a par with other major global health risks such as unhealthy diet and tobacco smoking.
  • There is a body of scientific evidence to prove that air pollution is leading to severe health impacts and 90% of the entire global population is breathing polluted air.

Solutions Provided by WHO 

                                     Image Courtesy: WHO

Steps Taken by Government

  • The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Household LPG program and other schemes have helped to dramatically expand access to clean energy, especially for rural households.
  • National Clean Air Programme (NCAP)
    • It was launched in 2019)now renamed National Clear Air Mission which aims to reduce the particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5) concentrations in the air by 20–30% by 2024.
  • Commission for Air Quality Management
    • The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and adjoining areas, 2020 — with a provision for a fine of Rs 1 crore and/or jail for 5 years for those violating air pollution norms.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Polity and Governance

Urbanisation Policy in India

In News

  • Recently, NITI Aayog launched a Report on Reforms in Urban Planning Capacity in India to discuss why India needs an urbanisation policy.

Report Summary

  • Global Urban Population: 
    • India is home to 11% of the total global urban population
    • By 2027, India will surpass China as the most populous country in the world. 
    • Unplanned urbanization, however, exerts great strain on our cities. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the dire need for the planning and management of our cities.
  • Spatial Sustainability:
    •  65 percent of the 7,933 urban settlements do not have any master plan. They are instrumental for guiding and regulating the development of cities for managing urbanisation as well as 'spatial sustainability'.
  • India:  
    • From a population of 377 million in 2011, Indian cities are projected to house 870 million people by 2050, according to the UN’s projections — by far the highest among all nations. 
  • Delhi: 
    • Delhi is likely to become the world’s most populous urban agglomeration by 2030, surpassing Tokyo. Clearly, a major demographic transformation is taking place.
  • Several Recommendations: 
    • The report has made several recommendations that can unblock bottlenecks in the value chain of urban planning capacity in India. 
    • The report suggests that every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy City for All’ by 2030.
    • As India urbanises, it must ensure that its cities offer a decent quality of life and facilitate job creation. 
    • These imperatives are fundamental to India’s ambitions of becoming a five trillion-dollar economy by 2025 and a 10 trillion-dollar economy by 2030.
  • Three-fold Vision: 
    • The MoHUA recognizes that India’s growth story is unfolding in its cities and post COVID-19 urban India shall have to increasingly contribute towards  realizing Hon’ble Prime Minister’s three-fold vision for:
    • Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self Reliant India)
    • Vocal for local
    • USD5 trillion economy by 2025

Challenges faced by Cities

  • Affordable Housing: 
    • Inadequate affordable housing has meant that almost one-sixth of the urban population lives in slums. 
  • Water Supply & Waste Management:
    • Water supply is unreliable. 
    • Mountains of solid waste sit on the fringes of our cities. 
    • Poor drainage, congested roads and deteriorating air quality are other challenges. 
  • Poor Urban Planning:
    • The existing urban planning and governance framework is complex, which often leads to ambiguity and lack of accountability.
    • City planning has become a highly technocratic exercise with long delays and there is a need for the demystification of the masterplans. 
  • Lack of Coordination:
    • Lack of synergy between urban and rural planning and development. The 'State Town and country planning acts' need to be revisited to harmonise the two.
  • Funding: 
    • More sources for funding are required like resources other than the public budget need to be tapped. High prices will make services unaffordable.
  • Migrant Crisis:
    • Urban dwellers are ignored and unable to live, work and play safely and happily. 
    • An urbanisation policy needs to take cognisance of future mobility patterns.

Suggestions in Report to Combat Urbanization

  • Programmatic Intervention for Planning of Healthy Cities: 
    • Every city must aspire to become a ‘Healthy City for All’ by 2030. The report recommends a Central Sector Scheme ‘500 Healthy Cities Programme’, for a period of 5 years, wherein priority cities and towns would be selected jointly by the states and local bodies.
  • Programmatic Intervention for Optimum Utilization of Urban Land: 
    • All the cities and towns under the proposed ‘Healthy Cities Programme’ should strengthen development control regulations based on scientific evidence to maximize the efficiency of urban land (or planning area). 
    • The report recommends a sub-scheme ‘Preparation/Revision of Development Control Regulations’ for this purpose.
  • Ramping Up of Human Resources: 
    • To combat the shortage of urban planners in the public sector, the report recommends that the states/UTs may need to:
      • expedite the filling up of vacant positions of town planners, and 
      • additionally sanction 8268 town planners’ posts as lateral entry positions for a minimum period of 3 years and a maximum of 5 years to meet the gaps.
  • Ensuring Qualified Professionals for Undertaking Urban Planning: 
    • State town and country planning departments face an acute shortage of town planners. 
    • This is compounded by the fact that in several states, ironically, a qualification in town planning is not even an essential criterion for such jobs. 
    • States may need to undertake requisite amendments in their recruitment rules to ensure the entry of qualified candidates into town-planning positions.
  • Re-engineering of Urban Governance: 
    • There is a need to bring in more institutional clarity and also multi-disciplinary expertise to solve urban challenges. 
    • The report recommends the constitution of a high-powered committee to re-engineer the present urban-planning governance structure. 
    • The key aspects that would need to be addressed in this effort are: 
      • clear division of the roles and responsibilities of various authorities, appropriate revision of rules and regulations, etc.
      • creation of a more dynamic organizational structure, standardisation of the job descriptions of town planners and other experts, 
      • extensive adoption of technology for enabling public participation and inter-agency coordination.
  • Revision of Town and Country Planning Acts: 
    • Most States have enacted the Town and Country Planning Acts, that enable them to prepare and notify master plans for implementation. 
    • However, many need to be reviewed and upgraded. 
    • Therefore, the formation of an apex committee at the state level is recommended to undertake a regular review of planning legislations (including town and country planning or urban and regional development acts or other relevant acts).
  • Demystifying Planning and Citizen Outreach Campaign: 
    • While it is important to maintain the master plans’ technical rigour, it is equally important to demystify them for enabling citizens’ participation at relevant stages. 
    • Therefore, the committee strongly recommends a ‘Citizen Outreach Campaign’ for demystifying urban planning.
  • Steps for Enhancing the Role of Private Sector: 
    • The report recommends that concerted measures must be taken at multiple levels to strengthen the role of the private sector to improve the overall planning capacity in the country. 
    • These include the adoption of fair processes for procuring technical consultancy services, strengthening project structuring and management skills in the public sector, and empanelment of private sector consultancies.
  • Steps for Strengthening Urban Planning Education System
    • The Central universities and technical institutions in all the other States/UTs are encouraged to offer postgraduate degree programmes (MTech Planning) to cater to the requirement of planners in the country in a phased manner.
    • The committee also recommends that all such institutions may synergize with the Ministry of Rural Development, Ministry of Panchayati Raj and respective state rural development departments/directorates and develop demand-driven short-term programmes on rural area planning.
    • ‘Planning’ as an umbrella term, including all its specializations such as environment, housing, transportation, infrastructure, logistics, rural area, regional, etc., or any other nomenclature approved by AICTE, should be included as a discipline under the National Institute Ranking Framework (NIRF) of MoE to encourage a healthy competition among the institutions.
    • Faculty shortage in educational institutions conducting degree and PhD programmes in planning need to be resolved in a time bound manner by 2022.
  • Measures for Strengthening Human Resource and Match Demand–Supply: 
    • The report recommends the constitution of a ‘National Council of Town and Country Planners’ as a statutory body of the Government of India. 
    • Also, a ‘National Digital Platform of Town and Country Planners’ is suggested to be created within the National Urban Innovation Stack of MoHUA. 
    • This portal will enable self-registration of all planners and evolve as a marketplace for potential employers and urban planners.
  • Sustainable Plans: 
    • Creating plans and sustainable physical infrastructure to support enhancing ‘economic base’ of urban areas 
  • Set of enablers: 
    • Boosting local economy through set-of enablers (finance, infrastructure, policy, regulation, institutional support and governance) to provide necessary social infrastructure including housing, informal sector livelihood, common services platforms for networking etc.
  • Promotion : 
    • Promoting mass public transport systems, non-polluting modes, promoting  pedestrian safety and cycling (to achieve safer and healthy cities) 
  • Urban Local Bodies funding:
    • Enhancing the finances of urban local bodies, devolving powers to lead, set-outcome based targets and leverage financial resources independently
  • Real time database for monitoring: 
    • Create real-time urban information hub at local level, integrated with the  regional, state and national level database for informed decision making
  • Environment Sustainability: 
    • Establish systems and technology to ensure environmental sustainability to minimize negative impact and improve urban resilience (including readiness for managing pandemic). 

 Conclusion

  • For our growth ambitions to succeed, not only do the gaps have to be filled, but even greater needs, necessitated by the growing population, have to be accommodated. 
  • A proper balance between agglomeration economies and manageability as well as density and distance will hold the key in determining the right size for our cities.
  • The huge investment in urban infrastructure is outside the range of what the public budget can support. Thus, the participation of all other stakeholders is needed.

India’s Global Commitments

  • SDGs (Goal 11): Promote urban planning as one of the recommended methods for achieving sustainable development.
  • UN-Habitat’s New Urban Agenda: It was adopted at Habitat III in 2016. It puts forth principles for the planning, construction, development, management, and improvement of urban areas.
  • UN-Habitat (2020) mentions spatial sustainability, as a concept. It suggests that the spatial conditions of a city can enhance its power to generate social, economic and environmental value and well-being.
  • Paris Agreement: India’s National Determined Contributions (NDCs) includes the goals to reduce the emission intensity of the country's GDP by 33 to 35% by 2030 from 2005 level.


Source: IE

SUBJECT : Biodiversity and Environment

State of Climate Services 2021: WMO

In News 

  • Recently, the World Meteorological Organization(WMO) released a report  State of Climate Services 2021.

About State of Climate Services 2021 

  • It is a collaboration between the WMO, international organisations, development agencies and scientific institutions, estimates that the number of people with inadequate access to water will top 5 billion by 2050 versus 3.6 billion in 2018.
  • This 2021 edition of the WMO State of Climate Services report focuses on water, an issue that is of great significance to communities in every corner of the globe, and that affects every economic sector. 

Major Findings 

  • In 2018, some 3.6 billion people globally had inadequate access to water for one month per year, which is expected to surpass five billion by 2050.
  • Terrestrial water storage (TWS) dropped at a rate of 1 cm per year in 20 years (2002-2021).
    • The biggest losses have occurred in Antarctica and Greenland. 
  • More than two billion people live in water-stressed conditions and lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
  •  Overall, water-related hazards have been increasing in frequency for the past two decades.
  • Flood-related disasters rose by 134 per cent when compared with the two previous decades. 
    • Most deaths and economic losses occurred in Asia, where warning systems require strengthening.  
  • The number and duration of droughts also increased by 29 per cent over the past two decades.  
    • Most deaths were in Africa, again indicating the need for stronger warning systems.

 

[The red areas indicate a large water mass loss during the time. These areas are those worst affected by climate change and/or human activity, excluding Greenland and Antarctica, which are not included on the map, as their water mass loss trends are so great that they overshadow the other continental water mass trends]

  • Indian scenario
    • In India, per capita, water availability is reducing due to an increase in population. The average annual per capita water availability has been consistently decreasing. 
      • It reduced to 1,545 cubic metres in 2011, from 1,816 cubic metres in 2001.
    • India has recorded the highest loss in terrestrial water storage if the loss of water storage in Antarctica and Greenland is excluded. 
      • India is, therefore, the ‘topmost hotspot of TWS loss’. 

Terrestrial water storage (TWS)

  • TWS is the sum of all water on the land surface and in the subsurface, i.e. surface water, soil moisture, snow and ice and groundwater. 

Causes of pressure on water resources 

  • Water resources across the world are under tremendous pressure due to human and naturally-induced stressors. 
    • These include population growth, urbanisation and decreasing availability of freshwater.
  • Extreme weather events too have been responsible for the pressure on water resources realised across sectors and regions.

Impacts 

  • Increasing temperatures are resulting in global and regional precipitation changes, leading to shifts in rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, with a major impact on food security and human health and well-being.
  • This past year has seen a continuation of extreme, water-related events. 
    • Across Asia, extreme rainfall caused massive flooding in Japan, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and India. 
  • Millions of people were displaced, and hundreds were killed. But it is not just in the developing world that flooding has led to major disruption.
  •  Catastrophic flooding in Europe led to hundreds of deaths and widespread damage.

Recommendations

  •  Invest in Integrated Resources Water Management as a solution to better manage water stress, especially in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).
  • Invest in end-to-end drought and flood early warning systems in at-risk LDCs, including drought warnings in Africa and flood warnings in Asia.
  • Fill the capacity gap in collecting data for basic hydrological variables which underpin climate services and early warning systems.
  • Improve the interaction among national-level stakeholders to co-develop and operationalize climate services with information users to better support adaptation in the water sector. 
    • There is also a pressing need for better monitoring and evaluation of socio-economic benefits, which will help to showcase best practices;
  • Fill the gaps in data on country capacities for climate services in the water sector, especially for SIDS.
  • Join the Water and Climate Coalition11 to promote policy development for integrated water and climate assessments, solutions and services, and benefit from a network of partners that develop and implement tangible, practical projects, programs and systems to improve hydroclimate services for resilience and adaptation.

World Meteorological Organisation

  • It is an intergovernmental organization with a membership of 193 Member States and Territories. 
  • It was established by the ratification of the WMO Convention on 23 March 1950.
  • It originated from the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), the roots of which were planted at the 1873 Vienna International Meteorological Congress.
  • It is the specialised agency of the United Nations for meteorology (weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences a year later. 
  • The Secretariat, headquartered in Geneva, is headed by the Secretary-General. Its supreme body is the World Meteorological Congress.
  • The State of the Global Climate-World Meteorological Organization issued the first state of the climate report in 1993. 
    • The report was initiated due to the concerns raised at that time about projected climate change.


Source:DTE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Hubs

In News

  • The government is planning to set up 75 Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Hubs in different parts of the country, exclusively for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).

Key Points

  • About:
    • Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Hubs are being established by the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • Objectives:
    • To address the weakest linkages in the predominant livelihood systems through Science & Technology (S&T) interventions. 
    • Creation of social enterprises based on the strengths in livelihood systems. 
    • To improve the Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) through inputs of S&T for strengthening the livelihoods.
  • Benefits:
    • This will develop, nurture and ensure the delivery of appropriate and relevant technologies for inclusive socio-economic development through the creation of sustainable livelihoods for the SC and ST population in tune with their growth aspirations.
    • It will build the Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Capacities and Capabilities among SC/ST population.
    • In the last two years, 20 STI Hubs (13 for SCs and 7 for STs) have already been established by DST which will directly benefit 20,000 SC and ST populations through various interventions spreading across the farm, non-farm, other allied livelihood sectors and various livelihoods assets like energy, water, health, education, etc.


Source: TOI

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Scheme for ‘Good Samaritan’

In News

  • The Union government has launched a scheme for ‘Good Samaritan’. The new scheme Good Samaritan would be effective from October 15, 2021, till March 31, 2026

Key Points

  • Aim: 
    • To motivate the general public to help the road accident victims in an emergency situation.
  • Provisions:
    • Under the Scheme, anyone who saves the life of a fatal road accident victim by rushing them to a hospital within the “golden hour” will get a cash reward of ?5,000.
      • 'Golden hour' refers to the 1-hour time period following a traumatic injury during which there is the highest likelihood of preventing death by providing prompt medical care.
    • Each Good Samaritan would also receive a certificate of appreciation.
    • An individual could be awarded a maximum of five times in a year.
    • If more than one Good Samaritan saves the life of more than one victim, the amount of award would be ?5,000 per victim saved, subject to a maximum of ?5,000 per Good Samaritan.

Source: HT

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Exercise MILAN

In News

  • India is set to host its largest naval exercise, Ex Milan, in February 2022 for which 41 countries have been invited.
    • The exercise will see the participation of all Quad countries with the U.S. being invited for the first time.

Exercise Milan

  • It is a biennial, multilateral naval exercise which started in 1995.
  • Formerly, held at Port Blair and now is shifted to Visakhapatnam 
  • The Navy has held 10 editions of the Milan exercise, with the theme of “synergy across the seas” to enhance professional interactions between friendly foreign navies and learn best practices from each other, since 1995. 
  • The areas of cooperation of the exercise includes capacity building, marine domain awareness, training, hydrography, technical assistance, and operational exercises.

Other Military Exercises of India 

  • JIMEX : India-Japan
  • Ex-Desert Knight 21 exercise:  It is a bilateral air exercise to be held between Indian Air Force and the French air and Space Force.
  • Indra Dhanush: It is a joint air force exercise between the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom
  • Exercise Pitch Black: India and Australia.
    • The main aim of the exercise is to practice Defensive Counter Air combat and Offensive Counter Air Combat
  • AUSINDEX: Bilateral naval exercise between the Indian Navy and the Australian Navy.
    • Both countries hold bilateral army exercises named  AUSTRAHIND.
  • Dharma Guardian: The joint military exercise named “Dharma Guardian” between India and Japan.
    • The exercise is aimed at developing mutual understanding and respect between militaries of both countries, as also facilitate in tracking worldwide phenomenon of terrorism
  • Aviaindra: India and Russia joint air exercise.
  • Nomadic Elephant: India and  Mongolia joint exercise.

Source: TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

In Context

  • The 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Benjamin List and David W C MacMillan “for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis”.

What is Organocatalysis?

  • Catalysis:
    • It is the process of increasing the rate of a chemical reaction by adding a catalyst.
    • The major types of catalysts are metals and enzymes.
  • Catalyst:
    • A catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without taking part in the reaction, or without undergoing any changes during the chemical reaction.
  • Organocatalysis: 
    • Organocatalysis describes the acceleration of chemical reactions through the addition of a substoichiometric quantity of an organic compound.
  • Working of Organocatalysis:
    • Organocatalysts bind to the reacting molecules to form short-lived intermediates that are more reactive than the substrate molecules on their own. 
    • Being chiral(a type of molecule that has a non-superimposable mirror image), the catalyst transfers its handedness to the substrate, controlling which side of the intermediate can react further.

Image Courtesy: Nobelprize.org

  • Applications of organocatalysis:
    • It has several applications in pharmaceutical research and other industries.
    • It has helped streamline the production of existing pharmaceuticals, including paroxetine, used to treat anxiety and depression, and oseltamivir, a respiratory infection medication.

Source: IE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

PM MITRA Parks

In News 

  • Recently, the Union Cabinet led by the Prime Minister of India cleared a proposal to set up seven PM MITRA parks as announced in the Union Budget for 2021-22.

PM MITRA 

  • About:
    • The seven Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel (PM MITRA) parks will be set up at Greenfield or Brownfield sites located in different states.
    • It is in line with the vision of ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ and to position India strongly on the Global textiles map.
    • The PM MITRA park will be developed by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), which will be owned by the State Government and the Government of India in a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Mode. 
    • PM MITRA is inspired by the 5F vision of the Prime Minister of India. The ‘5F’ Formula encompasses - farm to fibre; fibre to factory; factory to fashion; fashion to foreign. 

Greenfield and Brownfield Projects

  • There are two types of infrastructure projects – greenfield development and brownfield development.
    • With greenfield development, a company will build its own, brand new facilities from the ground up.
    • Brownfield development happens when a company purchases or leases an existing facility.
  • Capital Support:
    • Maximum Development Capital Support (DCS) of Rs 500 crore to all Greenfield PM MITRA and a maximum of Rs 200 Crore to Brownfield PM MITRA will be provided for the development of Common Infrastructure (at 30 percent of the Project Cost).
    • Rs 300 Crore of Competitiveness Incentive Support (CIS) will also be provided to each PM MITRA park for the early establishment of textiles manufacturing units in PM MITRA. 
  • Core infrastructure: 
    • It will include an incubation centre and plug and play facility, developed factory sites, roads, power, water and waste-water system, common processing house and CETP and other related facilities like design centre, testing centres, among others.
      • These parks will also have support infrastructures like workers’ hostels and housing, logistics park, warehousing, medical, training and skill development facilities.

                                           Image Courtesy: PIB

Significance 

  • It will lead to increased investments and enhanced employment opportunities .
  • It will give domestic manufacturers a level-playing field in the international textiles market & pave the way for India to become a global champion of textiles exports across all segments”.

Source:TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

Corbett National Park

In News 

  • Recently, the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change proposed to change the name of Corbett National Park to Ramganga National Park.

About Corbett Tiger Reserve

  • Location: 
    • Nainital, Uttarakhand.
    • Spans over an extent of 520 square km.
    • The whole area comprises hills, marshy depressions, riverine belts, grasslands and a large lake.
    • Rivers: Ramganga, Kosi & Sonanadi.
  • Established in 1936 as Hailey National Park after Sir Malcolm Hailey, the governor of the United Province.
  • It was renamed Ramganga National Park, named after the river that flows through it, shortly after Independence and was rechristened yet again as Corbett National Park in 1956.
  • Corbett has the glory of being India's oldest and most prestigious National Park.
  • It is a part of the larger Corbett Tiger Reserve, a Project Tiger Reserve.
    • It is honoured as the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973.
  • Flora:
    • According to the Botanical Survey of India, Corbett has 600 species of plants comprising trees, shrubs, ferns, grass, climbers, herbs and bamboo.
    • More than 75% of the total area of Corbett is dominated by Sal forests.
  • Fauna:
    • Apart from Royal Bengal Tiger, it is also home to a sizable population of the endangered Asiatic elephant and other critically endangered species including the Gharial.
    • Mammal species include Asiatic Black Bear, Hog Deer, Walking Deer, Sambar, Sloth Bear, etc., a diversity of aqua fauna and birdlife with approximately 600 species including the great pied hornbill, white-Backed Vulture, Hodgson's bush chat, etc. and reptiles like mugger Crocodiles, the king Cobra, etc.

Jim Corbett

  • Edward James Corbett was born on 25th July 1875 of English ancestry in the Nainital districts of Uttarakhand. 
  • He grew up spending much of his childhood exploring the wilderness that exists around him.
  • He spent the major part of his life at Gurney House (located in Nainital) with his large family, his mother Mary Jane Corbett and his sister Margaret Winfred Corbett, fondly called Maggie. 
  • He was blessed with excellent observation, fleet-footed and great stamina. 
  • He was so intelligent and active that he could read the signs of the forest and movement of wildlife and put all senses on (sight, hearing and smelling) while moving in the forests. 
  • He led a confirmed bachelor life and remained an active member of many wildlife preservation organizations and helped in conserving these natural resources.

Source:IE

SUBJECT : Facts in News

First anti­malarial vaccine “RTS, S “

In News 

  • Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) endorsed the first antimalarial vaccine.

About 

  • RTS, S was first authorised in 2015 by the European Medicines Agency for use in Africa in infants and children.
  • The WHO recommended widespread use of the RTS, S/AS01 (RTS, S) malaria vaccine among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission. 
  • The recommendation is based on results from an ongoing pilot programme in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.

Key findings of the malaria vaccine pilots

  • Feasible to deliver: Vaccine introduction is feasible, improves health and saves lives, with good and equitable coverage of RTS, S saw through routine immunization systems. 
    • This occurred even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Reaching the unreached: RTS, S increases equity in access to malaria prevention.
  • Data from the pilot programme showed that more than two-thirds of children in the 3 countries who are not sleeping under a bednet are benefitting from the RTS, S vaccine.
  • Strong safety profile: To date, more than 2.3 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in 3 African countries – the vaccine has a favourable safety profile. 
    • No negative impact on the uptake of bednets, other childhood vaccinations, or health-seeking behaviour for febrile illness. 
  • High impact in real-life childhood vaccination settings: Significant reduction (30%) in deadly severe malaria, even when introduced in areas where insecticide-treated nets are widely used and there is good access to diagnosis and treatment.
  • Highly cost-effective: Modelling estimates that the vaccine is cost-effective in areas of moderate to high malaria transmission.
  • Financial support: Financing for the pilot programme has been mobilized through an unprecedented collaboration among three key global health funding bodies: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; and Unitaid.

Significance and need 

  • The development comes at a time when the WHO and its partners have reported stagnation in the progress against the disease that kills more than 2,60,000 African children under the age of five annually. 
    • Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The long-awaited malaria vaccine for children is a breakthrough for science, child health and malaria control.
  • It will help in saving tens of thousands of young lives each year.

Source:TH

SUBJECT : Facts in News

i-Drone

In Context

  • Recently, the ICMR's Drone Response and Outreach in North East (i-Drone) was launched in Manipur.

About the Project

  • Purpose:
    • The i-Drone was designed to overcome vaccine delivery challenges in hard-to-reach terrains of India, by deploying unmanned aerial vehicles or drones to these areas. 
    • It was used to transport Covid-19 vaccines travelling an aerial distance of 15 km in less than 15 minutes in Manipur.
  • Currently, the drone-based delivery project has been granted permission for implementation in Manipur, Nagaland, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

Significance 

  • Drones can be used in delivering important life-saving medicines and

collecting blood samples in critical situations and in tough geographical areas.

  • Over the last decade, drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are being increasingly used for
    • law and order, 
    • courier services, 
    • surveillance and
    • attack in the military domain. 
  • Modern drones have been used militarily since the 1990s, including by the US during the Gulf War.
  • In India, the most commonly known drones are:
    • Quad- and hexacopters used for civil and commercial purposes, 
    • Heron drones used for military surveillance. 
    • Different UAVs operate under various technologies ranging from the remote control by a human operator to using GPS and radio frequencies, and autopilot assistance.

India’s Drone Technology

  • The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed a detect-and-destroy technology for drones, but it is not yet into mass production. 
  • The DRDO’s counter-drone System was deployed for VVIP protection at the Republic Day parades in 2020 and 2021
  • Developed in 2019, it has the capabilities for hardkill (destroying a drone with lasers) and softkill (jamming a drone’s signals). 
  • It has a 360° radar that can detect micro drones up to 4 km, and other sensors to do so within 2 km. Its softkill range is 3 km and hardkill range between 150 m and 1 km.
  • The Army is working upon its swarm technology, with 75 drones swarming together to destroy simulated targets.
  • Leased from other countries: In 2020, the Navy got two unarmed SeaGuardian Predator drones on lease from the US. The three forces want 30 of these UAVs between them.


Source: PIB